By Robert A. Emmanuel
Antigua and Barbuda maintained its stance on the political crisis in Venezuela by voting against a resolution at the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which included a provision accepting the seating of a designee of the opposition-controlled National Assembly of Venezuela as the representative for that country.
The resolution was backed by 20 countries plus the representative of the National Assembly of Venezuela, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, and the United States.
Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries still remain divided on the situation in Venezuela.
St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti and the Bahamas broke ranks with the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by voting in favour of the resolution.
However, in a statement following the vote, Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister E.P. Chet Greene said the country could not accept the resolution.
“While we are concerned about the flow of migrants from Venezuela into other states and we sympathise with the burden being placed upon the governments and people of those states, we recognise that the causes of migration from Venezuela are many; some flow from external factors not reflected in this resolution,” Greene said.
He noted that, under Article 143 of the OAS, “any Member State upon written notification to the General Secretariat” can denounce the OAS Charter, which after two years will cease to apply to the Member State and, thus will be considered a non-Member State in the OAS; Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro withdrew his country from the OAS in 2017.
According to the Foreign Minister, “therefore, we do not consider it to be a member-state of the OAS.”
“Indeed, we are persuaded, by legal advice, that the method employed in the Permanent Council, to seat a nominee of the National Assembly of Venezuela as a representative, was ultra vires of the OAS Charter and the rules of the Permanent Council.
Greene stated that the country has the right to not be bound by any decision made by a simple majority, where the majority included the Venezuelan representative.
“It is a matter of record that Antigua and Barbuda formally registered at the Permanent Council that it reserves its right not to accept or be bound by any resolutions, declarations or positions of the Permanent Council or any other organs of the OAS by a majority of 18 states that includes the purported representative of Venezuela.
“This General Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of our Organization. Its decisions, collectively made by all member states, bind all organs of this Institution. But, delegations cannot be bound by a decision made only by a simple majority that disregards and discounts the legitimate rights and positions of other member states.
“We wish it to be noted that we continue to reserve our rights not to recognise any resolutions or declarations adopted with the participation of a non-member state or anyone purporting to be a representative of a non-member state.”